Chapter 33 – Foresight
Legolas stood next to Rhavaniel as Glandur delivered his latest news. "It seems most of the Galadhrim will now go back to the Golden Wood." He moved closer to her and took her hand, looking to the ground with a bowed head. "Many were lost in the battle. Not all can be taken home, only a few, Haldir included. Some have decided to stay and make sure the deceased are taken care of properly and laments are sung for all." Glandur looked to her. "They will need a leader now."
Legolas looked to Rhavaniel. Though she told him she did not love Haldir, he could still see her concern and sadness for the Marchwarden. "You should go with them, to Lothlorien."
Rhavaniel thought it was the best thing to do at the time, though with Haldir gone it seemed there was nothing left for her there save his brothers and the Lady herself. But her spirit was not ready to return. "Perhaps you are right." she agreed.
"What of Mirkwood?" Legolas asked turning to Glandur.
"We march back home on the morrow. Now that Isengard has been destroyed, your father fears an attack from Dol Guldur." the captain answered.
Legolas' heart sank. He should go with them, help protect his home and its people. He was their Prince and should be by his father's side in such dire times. Galadriel's warning came back to him…
"… long under tree in joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea! If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more*."
He knew he should heed this warning. He was needed back home. Maybe this was as far as he was meant to come with the fellowship. After all, he went as far as he had sworn in his oath and Aragorn had told him not to follow him on the Paths of the Dead. Had his father not called the troops home, he would willingly go with Aragorn, but this was his home, his and Rhavaniel's.
Rhavaniel could feel his turmoil. It should be an easy decision for him but something stirred in his very soul causing him conflict. "Legolas?" she whispered wrapping her hands around his strong arm. She needed to know what plagued his mind.
At that moment, a messenger poked his head into the room. "I am sorry to interrupt, but the wizard Gandalf calls for counsel and asks for Lord Legolas to attend right away."
Legolas came out of his quiet reverie and thoughts. "I am on my way." he said before turning to Rhavaniel. He laid his hand over hers, still gripping his arm. "You should go to Lorien. If Dol Guldur gathers its troops, they may be headed for both realms. They will need your protection."
She knew he was right. She was already thinking along the same lines. "Then that is where I am needed."
Legolas bent and captured her lips once more. Rhavaniel was surprised by his actions. This time he held nothing back. He poured not only his love but also his life into that kiss. Its spark represented his love for her, which still felt new, but the fire behind the spark was like the lifetime they spent together. He now knew it was no mere coincidence that they were born the same day or that her mother guarded his own. It was their destiny. They were tied together before their births because of their mothers and bound together by their love even without a proper ceremony. And with this kiss, Legolas decided his own fate, leaving it in the hands of the Valar. He would pay no heed to Galadriel's warning and follow Aragorn and the fellowship. He could only pray that his father and the Mirkwood army would be able to fend off this evil without him.
* * *
It was some time later when Rhavaniel came upon Antien. He was sitting on a set of steps that led to a breezeway of the Keep. On each side of him was a small child, looking at him wide-eyed and attentive, mouths hanging agape. She stopped short to observe the scene. His arms waved and hands flailed as he told the children some story of the elves, maybe of his own recent adventures. He brought his arms close to his body now and seemed to double over. She could tell he was whispering now for the children leaned in close so they could hear. Then sudden he popped up straight, arms shooting into the air. The children let out a short surprised scream and jumped back at his sudden outburst, obviously the height of the story. Rhavaniel giggled as she watched their surprised faces. Antien heard her laugh and looked towards her. He gave her a smile and winked before bringing his attention back to the children. He finished his story and had the children laughing by the end.
"Thank you Master Elf. That was the best story we have ever heard." said the girl in a sweet voice. She smiled brightly at Antien, batting her eyelashes. It was apparent she was quite smitten with the Mirkwood elf.
The boy merely rolled his eyes and took the girl by the arm. "Come along sissy. Mama will be wondering where we have gotten off to." Then looking at Antien said. "Thank you for the story. We surely will never forget it."
Antien smiled and touched each of their shoulders. "You are quite welcome young ones. Now off you go before you get in trouble." The children waved to him as they skipped away up the steps.
Rhavaniel went over and sat on the step next to her friend. "Telling tales are we? Hopefully you are not exaggerating too much." she teased.
Antien pretended to be offended. "Of course not. I only told them about the three orcs I took on by myself… and the troll. Oh and then there was the balrog." By now, not even Antien could keep a straight face and he laughed along with his friend.
"Oh Antien, you always were quite the storyteller." she said.
"How do you think I wooed Glandur?" he jested and Rhavaniel slapped him on the arm.
After a few more moments of joy, they came back to the reality of their situation. "You are leaving in the morning I hear."
"Yes. We are needed back home now. I fear what evil will be lurking at our doors now that Saruman's armies have been destroyed. Mordor will hear about the defeat and will likely strike out in anger. And what about you Rhav? Where does your path lead?"
"I believe I will go with the Lorien soldiers back to the Golden Wood. If it is as you say, Lorien may also be attacked. We fight in different wars but for the same cause."
Antien heard a bit of worry and concern in her voice. Right away, he knew who it was that invaded her thoughts. "Legolas will be fine. He is strong and he loves you. He will come home."
"I don't know Antien. There is something he is not telling me. I fear for his safety. He knows something, maybe of his future. I don't know. I cannot put my finger on it, but it is there. I can feel it."
Antien wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her into him. They sat in a comfortable silence for a while, each one wondering where these dark days would lead them and their loved ones.
* * *
It was sometime late into the night. Rhavaniel was resting on a bench in a quiet hallway. She was offered the kingly room to stay in for another night but she refused. She did not feel worthy of this comfort when others of her kin were not given such. She was above no one.
She was in reverie, deep and still, when she heard a voice off in the distance of her mind. Rhavaniel focused on the voice and suddenly recognized it as belonging to the Lady Galadriel. She knew of the Lady's ability to communicate this way but never experienced it. It was always Haldir that she spoke with.
"Rhavaniel, several choices are laid out before you. You know which directions you have to choose from. I am here to tell you of the one that has been overlooked. You have proven yourself time and time again. You are a great warrior and have earned the respect that you are due. It is true what you have assumed. Mirkwood and Lothlorien will come under fire by the enemy, but neither is where you are needed. I ask that you set aside your warriors uniform and get to know the negotiator once more. You have many talents and some are needed more than others are. Worry not for the elven realms. The trouble now lies within the human lands, mainly between Rohan and Gondor. The old rivalries still exist and could prove to be their downfall. Something will turn the Eye towards Gondor, but they are not ready. They will need the assistance of Rohan. However, the King will only aid them if called upon. The Steward of Gondor is too proud to call for help. He sits on his lower throne, wasting away with grief for his fallen son. You Rhavaniel must go and convince him otherwise. Without the aid of Rohan, Gondor will perish. Already things are in place and their fates are being decided. A recent misfortune has sped up the process. Gandalf rides to Gondor as we speak. One of the Halflings rides with him as a diversion. It would be wise of you to consider this now, but do not wait too long. Should you go you must ride quickly, before the enemy closes in, while there is still time left." And with that, Galadriel's voice faded away.
Unbeknownst to the sleeping she-elf, a figure stood at her side where she lay on the bench. Legolas reached out and picked up a strand of her hair, twirling it between his fingers. He knew she was in a deep rest and would not wake. It was better this way. It was time for him to go and the last thing he wanted to do was say goodbye to Rhavaniel. Oh, she was so beautiful. If only they had more time, but time was of the essence now. At least he knew where she would be in his absence. Glandur had talked to her and she agreed to go back to Lothlorien. Even if the orcs attacked, it would be a safer place than where he was headed. The Paths of the Dead was not to be taken lightly. Still, it was not for his own safety that he worried. He did not fear death or the dead. It was for Aragorn where his concern laid. Should he not convince the dead army to fight for him, he would need Legolas and Gimli's help to bring him out of the mountain alive. And should Aragorn not be successful, it could certainly mean the fall of Gondor and eventually all of Middle Earth.
Legolas shook these thoughts from his head and focused on his sleeping Rhavaniel. He let her hair slip from his fingers and bent down on one knee. He kissed her lips lightly so as not to wake her but to hope she would dream of him.
"Legolas." she whispered in a long breathy voice.
He smiled to know she was subconsciously aware of his presence even while in reverie. "Sleep now my beauty. May the Valar watch over you. I love you Rhavaniel." he whispered and with that, he was gone.
* * *
Legolas was finishing up with his horse and his supplies when Antien approached him. "You are going so soon?"
"Yes. There is no time to waste. We must leave before sunrise." Legolas answered.
Antien studied his Princes face. "You have made the right choice. I do not know how I know this. I just feel it. I also know you will come back much changed but for better or worse I do not know." Antien furrowed his brow. "Does Rhavaniel know?"
"Does she know what?" Legolas countered. He had spoken to no one about Galadriel's message or his choice to ignore the warning. Still, Antien was more susceptible to such things. "Rhavaniel knows I must follow Aragorn. She just doesn't know I must take my leave now. There is no need to wake her. She will find out soon enough." He thought he sounded rather convincing.
Antien did not believe his whole story and cocked an eyebrow. "So then there is something she does not know. This is what bothers you. This is what you keep to yourself."
Legolas sighed deep. If anyone could figure things out it was Antien. Nothing got past his damn premonition. "I received a private message from the Lady Galadriel, a warning really. It can be taken many ways. I believe it is my test, to see how faithful I am to this mission and to Aragorn." Legolas reached into a hidden pocket inside his tunic. He took from it a piece of jewelry, a silver broach with a beech tree carved into it. He looked at it, turning it several times in his fingers. Then a slight smile escaped his lips. "My father gave this to my mother not long after they met. She treasured it not because of any value it held but for its simplicity, something my father is not. She said he could have given her all the most precious jewels in Middle Earth, but none would mean as much as this common pin. It was the fact that my ada put aside his desires for the best or the most expensive items to see the simple beauty in it. This came from his heart." Legolas then handed it to Antien. "Should I not return I want you to give it to Rhavaniel. Tell her what I just told you and that I have looked past it all and see her for her simplicity. She will always be wild as her name claims, but she does not always need to own up to that. I will love her no matter who she is or what she becomes."
Antien looked at the piece for a moment then clenched it tight in his fist. "I will keep it safe until you return. Then you may give it to her yourself."
"Let us hope mellon nin." Legolas replied before he led his horse to where Aragorn and Gimli waited.
* * *
Rhavaniel awoke with a start. "Gondor." she thought. "I must go to the White City." She knew there was no other choice now. Minas Tirith must call for aid and it may not go well without encouragement from an outside source. She did not know much about the Steward Denethor, but she knew enough. He was very stubborn and set in his ways, just as all leaders who came from that city. They were a proud line, almost too proud. She knew he would not agree easily.
Just as she got up and was on her way down the hall, a messenger approached from the opposite direction. He handed her a parchment and informed her it was from Prince Legolas. Then he continued to deliver other messages.
"Now why would Legolas send this?" she wondered as she unfolded the paper. "Surely he has not left…" Her thoughts came to a halt as she read the note. "He has left already? Without so much as a goodbye?" Who was she to question though? She had done the same thing in Imladris. At least she knew where he was headed. Rhavaniel read the letter.
'…By the time you read this, we will be well on our way down the Dimholt road, maybe even under the Dwimorberg for we left during the darkest hour of the night. Do not worry for me. This is what I must do. It is my call. I think I can finally understand how you must have felt all those years not being able to follow your dream for I have felt the same need. Something draws me in this direction. I am sure you have felt the same, which leads me to say this. I am deeply sorry for any harm or hindrance I may have caused you in the past. I only thought I was protecting you. You may never know how dear you are to me. I love you Rhavaniel and would surely fade should anything happen to you. However, I have seen a change in you. You were always meant to be a warrior. No one was going to stop you from that destined path just as no one can stop me from following my fellowship companions.
I do not know when or even if I will return. That still remains to be seen. You should know that it is my vision of you that keeps me strong, not just your wit or your beauty, but your courageousness as well. If I could live one day as fearless as you live your whole life, I will be a better ellon for it. Stay strong my love. Stay safe. I will always love you to the ends of the earth and back.'
A single tear escaped the corner of Rhavaniel's eye as she finished reading the letter. "He understands. He finally understands." she whispered to herself. "But he knows not that I leave for Minas Tirith instead of Lorien. Would he still feel the same if he knew?" And with that, Rhavaniel readied herself for the journey to Gondor.
* Galadriel's warning, LotR-The Two Towers